Andrea Fournet, the owner of The Arkansas Yoga and Therapy Center, has been practicing yoga since the mid-1980s. After studying in Ashrams, Buddhist temples and Hawaiian Hales, she was inspired to build a yoga sanctuary in Arkansas.

Mindful Studio: How did your studio come about?

Andrea Fournet: The Arkansas Yoga and Therapy Center was the dream child of mine. What started out as the Arkansas Yoga Center (AYC) in 1998 expanded to add yoga therapy in 2006 through my branded style VariYoga. I began my yoga journey on the Big Island of Hawaii in the mid-1980s. Having the opportunity to study and practice in Ashrams, Buddhist temples and Hawaiian Hales inspired my dream to build a yoga sanctuary in Arkansas. From there, AYC was carefully and thoughtfully crafted. With dedication to my dream, I was able to manifest my vision and create a serene, inspirational and unforgettable yoga studio right in the heart of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

MS: What was your vision?

AF: I envisioned a studio that supported wellness inside and out as well as a beautiful space that would foster self-transformation. I have a background in environmental studies, so the dream included an eco-friendly building that would nurture the health of our planet and inspire students from across the country. Through conscious creation, AYC stands out in our community as a beacon of environmental consciousness as well as a “yoga home” for those craving a long-term, maintainable practice that is suitable for yogis of all ages and stages.

MS: What is an interesting feature about the studio’s design?

AF: The Arkansas Yoga and Therapy Center was custom-built in 2004 with sustainability in mind. Our building and back porch were designed to be environmentally conscious long before the “eco” movement became mainstream. Despite being set in the middle of a growing metropolis, stepping into AYC feels like a dream. Our beautiful eco-friendly facility features welcoming and peaceful surroundings. In our backyard, you’ll find a relaxing water stream, a pond with green grass and a large deck for outdoor practice. A quick journey inside reveals a 1,200-square-foot studio downstairs, as well as an additional 600-square-foot one upstairs. The place nurtures the mind, body and soul.

MS: What is one key to your yoga studio’s success?

AF: The cornerstone of success at AYC is our community. We work diligently to foster a yoga “tribe,” and as our students will tell you, we “love our tribe.” In the studio, we celebrate each other’s growth and development. We encourage new students from all walks of life, regardless of age, ability or background. We maintain a huge presence in our local LGBTQ community and strive to be both an ally and a safe place. We truly believe in an all-inclusive practice that is safe, sustainable, accessible and adaptable for students of all levels.

MS: What advice would you give to other studio operators?

AF: Follow your heart and don’t give up on your dream. Have a plan, put it in place and create checklists. It may have taken me years to foster the yoga community in Northwest Arkansas, but today this community is thriving. By staying true to my vision, I’ve helped to maintain a thriving yoga community since 1998.